Monday, 08 October 2007

Owning a domain

These days it's pretty much taken as read that if you want a presence on the web you need your own domain. It's all very well for we IT experts to say that a customer needs a domain, but no use if the customer has no idea why. So the first question that needs to be answered is 'what is a domain'?

To answer that question we need to first understand how computers on the internet (or any network for that matter) 'talk' to each other, and more importantly how they find each other in the first place. Just as we do in the physical world, each computer has its own address which is typically made up of a 32 bit number known as the IP address. It is usually expressed in the following notation where each 'xxx' is an integer between 0 and 255.

That's all very well for computers to find each other but it isn't very memorable for we mere mortals, while I might remember the IP address of my own server I'm not going to remember the IP address of the Google web servers, for instance. That's where the domain name comes in, it is basically a human readable and memorable name for a given network. For instance '' is the web address of our companies web site, with '' being our companies domain name.

When you click on a web address the web browser needs to look up the address of the domain name that was entered, it does this by conversing with a domain name server which responds with the IP address of the domain in question.

So that's what a domain name does, but do you need one? The honest is answer is probably 'No' but we're starting to tread into other waters now, such as marketing. From a marketing perspective, if a company wants to be taken seriously they stand a much better chance if they've got their own '', '.com' or whatever. I must confess I'm guilty of that perception myself. But there is also another darker perspective, security.

In the past many 'dodgy' emails were sent from the free web based email providers such as Hotmail, Yahoo and Googles GMail. While from a private personal point of view it might be fine to have an account with these providers (most of us do), due to security concerns, rightly or wrongly many companies actually block email from these providers from ever arriving at their servers. So if you are using such an account for business, it's possible that your emails are not being allowed to get to your intended recipient. I must confess that any email that arrives in my mailbox from such an account is immediately treated as spam and with deep suspicion, with my guard only being relaxed if I know the email is from someone I know and trust.

If you think that it is time you got a domain and/or a web site then contact us today, as registering a domain is part and parcel of our web hosting package. We can provide a web site from just a few pages to a full data driven web 'application', we look forward to hearing from you to discuss your requirements.

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